Many promises | The current of UCSB

As part of the Graduate Division’s commitment to fostering diversity in higher education, UC Santa Barbara has launched a scholarship program that will fully fund up to two years of graduate school for selected students.

The fledgling Promise Scholars program is modeled on – and expands on – the Promise Scholars undergraduate program, which empowers high-achieving students from low-income households by offering the “promise” of guaranteed, multi-year support . It will officially begin in the 2022-2023 academic year, with two fellows in its inaugural cohort.

“There are now over 500 students in the Promise Scholars program, many of whom are considering graduate school. My thought was, “Why wouldn’t we want to keep these talented students at UC Santa Barbara, where they’ve already built a strong community?” said John Lofthus, assistant dean of development at the Graduate Division, who designed the new program. “The Promise Scholarship extends the original promise by providing full scholarship to selected students to pursue a master’s degree at UCSB.”

Inaugural Promise Fellow Michael Zargari is now a fourth-year Promise Fellow who will graduate this week with a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science and economics, as well as minors in Iranian studies and translation. His next step: the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, where he is aiming for a master’s degree in environmental data science.

“This scholarship means to me that UCSB is committed to bridging the gap with higher education for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented groups,” said Zargari, who as a freshman cycle, founded and co-chaired the Promise Scholar Advisory Board. “It allows me to fully focus on my classes without having to constantly worry about taking out loans or having multiple jobs to stay afloat.”

“Just as the Promise Fellowship allowed me to be deeply involved and give back to my community during my undergraduate years,” added Zargari, “I plan to use this new aid as a Promise Fellow to make even during my graduate years.”

The scholarships are funded primarily by donors, with additional campus support – through the Graduate Division, Bren School, Gevirtz School, and the Colleges of Engineering and Humanities – enabling to provide $40,000 per year to selected students.

Alexandra Seros and Walter Ulloa are among the program’s founding donors.

“The UCSB Promise Scholarship is an opportunity for all students to reach their academic potential, regardless of economic status, gender, or immigration status, no one is left behind,” said Seros . “In Walter’s experience and mine, these students are always extremely intelligent, talented and motivated; valuable contributors to both California and the United States at large.

The new initiative is helping to build a large pool of academically prepared undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds for graduate study at UC Santa Barbara, according to Anne and Michael Towbes, acting graduate dean Leila Rupp. Mentoring is also built into the program: Promise Fellow graduates will serve as role models and mentors to undergraduate Promise Scholars through the Fellowship.

“The Promise Fellowship program answers the University of California’s call to ‘Grow Our Own,’ which means leveraging the diversity of our undergraduate population to recruit them into graduate school and then into meaningful employment. in California,” Rupp said. “Students like Michael and Elena have the potential to give back to the community. We hope to attract more committed donors so that we can expand the program in the coming years.

Elena Barragan, a sociology major who will also graduate this week, is the second fellow in the inaugural cohort. A first-generation student, she grew up “living in poverty with the dream of becoming an elementary school teacher“, hoping to give younger generations a quality of education she thought she never had at that age. .

She earned her associate degree at Santa Barbara City College only to find she couldn’t afford to transfer to UCSB – until she received the Promise Scholarship. The Promise Scholarship will be equally transformational for Barragan, covering her costs as she works towards a Masters of Education and a teaching degree.

Without financial support from family or an income level that makes graduate school feasible, the Promise Scholarship, Barragan wrote in her application, “will allow me to thrive at the graduate level so that I can give back to this community. by fulfilling my goal of becoming an elementary school teacher.”

His story and situation are all too common, according to undergraduate program director Holly Roose.

“Our Promise Scholars can graduate debt-free only to incur debt of $40,000 or more in a master’s program,” Roose said. “For students who need to earn a master’s degree for their career goals, such as K-12 teachers, counselors, social workers, and others, these Graduate Division scholarships have proven lifesaving!

“Low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students in our program feel immense relief that there may be opportunities to continue their education after completing their undergraduate degree,” added Roose. . “Being able to tell them this is a possibility has been a huge deal and shows how innovative and expansive our program can be for our students.”

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